March 5, 2008
700 Valencia Street: The Details And Designs For Moving Forward
It’s another case of years in the making (and neighborhood resistance), but according to a plugged-in tipster it appears as though the redevelopment of 700 Valencia Street (at the southwest corner of Valencia and 18th Streets) is moving forward.
Project details from the Preliminary Mitigated Negative Declaration (pdf):
The proposed project would include demolition of the existing [one-story office building and surface parking lot] and construction of a five-story, 50-foot-tall mixed-use building totaling approximately 22,662 square feet. The building would include nine dwelling units, nine parking spaces and one commercial unit. The ground floor of the building would contain a garage with nine off-street parking spaces, commercial space and common/circulation space and would have 100 percent lot coverage.
And a little editorial from our tipster:
Who knew that a [50-foot-tall building] on a corner on Valencia would be met with such resistance….No wonder we're in slow motion out here. The building fills a parking lot, even has Car Share in the parking garage (which sounds like something every building should be required to do), and is so modest a building I was surprised by the neighborhood [outcry].
Which makes me really wonder what the temperature of the city is re: density -- or is it just people in the biz who tend to support a denser, more urban city?
First Published: March 5, 2008 12:26 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
... and as a bonus the new residents will be right next door to Leather Tongue Video !
I don't understand the resistance to denser development either. All I can figure is that it is a negotiating tactic to get some favor from the developer. Someone's probably trying to get that used car sales office/shack declared a historical landmark. "Look at these mid century nicotine stains on the walls. Its a national treasure !"
My only complaint about the proposed design is that the storefront seems to occupy only the leftmost third of the ground floor. That street has a lot of foot traffic and it would be a nice neighborhood amenity if as much as possible of the ground floor facade were retail.
[Editor's Note: We should have originally run the Valencia Street elevation (since switched) which is a bit more pedestrian friendly.]
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 5, 2008 1:01 PM
Being able to defeat any proposal you want on a whim with a few emails and a website is considered democracy in this town. Same with what is considered progress - successfully blocking development or lopping off a floor or two.
I say raise the height limit on the parcel to support 6-7 floors in exchange for more subsidized housing either onsite or off.
Also and this is KEY - Allow housing development within the restrictions of the specific site as a right. No BS 8 years of meeting with neighbors, BOS, etc - just let em build if they are within the myriad of restrictions placed on each site.
Tell me why we have a planning code at all if every single development is decided on a case by case basis?
Posted by: Joe at March 5, 2008 1:36 PM
Wasn't the resistance from the Mission anti-displacement coalition, objecting to *any* market-rate housing whatsoever in the Mission? It just shows the level of nihlism involved when a run-down garage and parking lot become preferable to new housing construction. It's enough to drive a sane person mad!
Posted by: zzzzzzz at March 5, 2008 1:40 PM
I wish they would have just turned it into another porn studio. You'd think the idiots doing the in-fighting would learn from the experience on 14th and MIssion.
Posted by: view lover at March 5, 2008 2:24 PM
"... and as a bonus the new residents will be right next door to Leather Tongue Video !"
Actually, there is a high end denim boutique there now:
Posted by: Dan at March 5, 2008 2:31 PM
A push for progress and multiple pushes for devolution of the neighborhood. Having lived in the Valencia corridor many years, we need to get developments like this to bring in more than just homeless and drug addicts and seedy elements into the neighborhood. Market rate isn't market rate 3-4 years ago so things are, at least, a little more accessible for some, I would hope!
Posted by: shakinghead at March 5, 2008 4:18 PM
I am unclear why anyone would be against revitalizing a run down neighborhood...
Posted by: Spencer at March 5, 2008 5:09 PM
"I am unclear why anyone would be against revitalizing a run down neighborhood..."
Run down neighborhoods repel the affluent and give the poor a place to live.
Posted by: diemos at March 5, 2008 5:21 PM
The Valencia St. corridor is not "run down" and doesn't need "revitalization." This location is within walking distance of more trendy restaurants than perhaps anywhere else in SF.
But opposition to building housing on a parking lot on Valencia is ridiculous.
Posted by: Dan at March 5, 2008 6:26 PM
Do yourselves a favor - VOTE AGAINST ERIC QUESADA this fall. He is the head of morons at Mission Anti-Displacement Coalition that fight against any - ANY - market-rate housing anywhere in the "eastern neighborhoods", and their biggest supportive mouthpiece - SF Bay Guardian - ran multiple editorials suggesting new market-rate housing should be prohibited anywhere in SF. Yes, there's nothing but vestiges of pathetic communism in their proclamations.
Posted by: Sashok at March 6, 2008 12:30 AM
THe valencia st corridor is "run down" and does need reviatlizing IMO. Look at the picture in questions. Sure there are a lot of bars and restaurants, but that does not make it livable. It is great going out in this area, but it needs revitalization as a place to live. Would look for clean streets, lower homeless poplulation, less screaming drunks, less violence, more livable housing
Posted by: Spencer at March 6, 2008 2:35 PM
The Valencia corridor does need some spiffing up but it is not nearly as bad as Spencer makes it out to be (but then my recollection is that Spencer recoils at anything less pristine than Pac Heights). This development seems perfectly reasonable and will fill in a a particularly ugly spot. It is too bad that the design is so completely uninspired.
Posted by: NoeNeighbor at March 8, 2008 8:59 PM
there are plenty of neighborhoods in SF that i consider to be liveable and nice. this just isn't one of them
Posted by: spencer at March 9, 2008 5:50 PM
I don't know about you, but isn't this new development more of the same cold and bland new condo construction that we see more and more in the Valencia corridor. The first floor is just pathetically bland. No real front store and neighborhood life. More bland intercoms and less real life on Valencia Street.
Go to any big European capital's suburbs (think La Courneuve for those who like "trendy" blockhauses) and tell me if you think again that density means more neighborhood life.
Posted by: NoelNoel at March 9, 2008 11:43 PM
As an adjacent neighbor to the 700 Valencia project and a leader in the effort to reform this project, I hope to dispel some myths. The primary opposition to this project is coming from a group called Valencia Neighbors which is a group of over one hundred neighbors in the surrounding area who believe that this project should 1)comply with current inclusionary housing law by providing one affordable ownership unit in the nine-unit building and 2) work with the neighbors to develop an acceptable mitigation for blocking the public view of the Women's Building Mural which is a historical and cultural icon in the neighborhood.
The developer of the project, John O'Connor and the hardball tactics used by the Residential Builders Association, are more to blame for the delay of his project that what "people in the biz" consider the dreaded "neighborhood resistance". If John O'Connor would have sat down in good faith, with a true desire to be a part of our proud community, and make some small but significant changes/gestures to the neighbors,we all would have gladly foregone the difficult process of opposing this project. Many other small developers have included affordable units, created additional setbacks, or put murals on their buildings out of respect to neighbors and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, John O'Connor, Architect Yakuh Askew, and the RBA do not see the wisdom in working with neighbors.
For those readers interested in density and the importance of urban living for the future of our planet, you may also be concerned that this project has an outdated 1-1 parking requirement in a building that is located on a transit corridor with exceptional biking and alternative transit opportunities. At the outset of this process, Valencia Neighbors offered to support a parking variance to eliminate some parking spots, saving the developer money on an expensive parking system and allowing some of that money to support an affordable unit. The developer refused this offer.
And for those readers interested in design, Valencia Neighbors agree with Spencer who wrote, "isn't this new development more of the same cold and bland new condo construction that we see more and more in the Valencia corridor. The first floor is just pathetically bland. No real front store and neighborhood life. More bland intercoms and less real life on Valencia Street." While on the owners of the condos will have beauty inside with fine fixtures and sleek urbane interiors, the outside that faces the community and impacts neighbors will offer nothing worth noting. And again this is a signature aspect of buildings going up all over our neighborhood that are pushed through planning by developers who are looking to spend as little money as possible while maximizing the building envelope, providing cookie cutter designs, and profiting more because of it.
For all of these reasons, our group believes that neighborhood input into planning and design is crucial for a vibrant and livable city. Neighbors in the Mission are not opposed to innovative planning ideas including density, rather it is the neighbors who are crying out for smarter, more creative solutions. Unfortunately, the limitations of the labyrinth planning process and the unwillingness of developers such as John O'Connor to break the cheap cookie cutter molds, stiffles the constructive and creative voice of neighbors and lets developers profits run the show.
Please support neighbors on Valencia in our modest and reasonable requests for reform of the 700 Valencia project. If John O'Connor could have, he would have saved himself a lot of time and money.
Posted by: Julie Leadbetter at April 1, 2008 9:53 PM
"2) work with the neighbors to develop an acceptable mitigation for blocking the public view of the Women's Building Mural which is a historical and cultural icon in the neighborhood."
The Women's Building's murals are mostly obscured from Valencia St. as it is-- see the second picture above. And the new development is not adjacent to the Women's Building.
Posted by: Dan at April 1, 2008 11:28 PM
Plus, let's be honest, that mural sucks.
Posted by: ug at March 10, 2009 11:31 PM
The "Valencia Neighbors" must be really dilusional if they think 100 people represent the neighborhood. This is just another NIMBY group who think they know what is right for the whole community.
Posted by: la in SF at March 11, 2009 8:23 AM
That Women's Building mural is horrifically ugly. I understand that some have deemed it an icon (and I even understand why although I disagree), and groups like "Valencia Neighbors" are playing on that faux status to further their NIMBY objectives. Very clever, but disingenuous.
Posted by: Trip at March 11, 2009 8:50 AM
I like the Woman's Building mural. By nature most murals are loud and garish. Not exactly sophisticated art but certainly adds spice to the street scene.
I also like the nearby mural on the facade of the school on Shotwell even better.
Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at March 11, 2009 9:43 AM
"The developer refused this offer."
That single sentence encapsulates everything that is wrong with groups like yours Julie. You act as if you have the right to dictate to property owners what, if anything, they are allowed to do with their property. A lot of us who live in this neighborhood cannot stand NIMBY groups like yours who claim to represent the neighborhood by pushing to block the development of a parking lot into housing in an area that needs infill development. The reality is most of the public opposition to this project came from groups opposed to all market rate development, and referring to the view of the women's building mural as a basis for opposition is ridiculous.
Boring condos will always be built if people are buying them. If customers demand something more interesting, that is what they will get.
Posted by: anono at March 11, 2009 1:09 PM
No building in San Francisco! Support suburbanization!
Posted by: Mark at March 11, 2009 1:48 PM
I'm all for murals, but "historical?" I remember when it was painted around 1993 or '94. That's what constitutes "historical?" You know what was historical? The Irish bar tucked into the Women's Bldg that was forced out.
What has happened to us? If a 1906-sized quake hit today it would take us 200 years to rebuild this city.
Posted by: Deano at March 11, 2009 3:35 PM